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 Sunday, August  13, 2006




Coplay defeats Fleetwings 8-3

Paul Giovannoli improves to 3-0 in the postseason as the Reds even the Finals at 1-1.


 By Steve Smull              



    SCHERERSVILLE -- The Coplay Reds seemed to gain some momentum at the end of Game 1 with their 3-spot in the seventh, because they picked up right where they left off at the start of Game 2, scoring three runs right out of the gate and then holding off the Fleetwings for an 8-3 victory, evening the best-of-5 Finals at 1-1.


    The "Series at Scherersville" now moves permanently to Limeport, with Games 3 & 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday and Game 5, if necessary, on Friday, with all starting times slated at 7:00 at Limeport Stadium.


    Leadoff man Kyle Rhoades got Game 2 started with a drag-bunt single for Coplay. Joe Bubba sacrificed him to second and Brandon Leslie ripped a double to to deep left-center to score Rhoades to make it 1-0 Reds. Kevin Thompson, a former Bangor baseball player and current East Stroudsburg University player, launched a triple to deep right-center, scoring Leslie to make it 2-0 Coplay. Caleb Calarco, a junior at King's College, ripped a single to left to make it 3-0 Reds.


    One of Calarco's college teammates, Paul Giovannoli, took the hill for Coplay, looking for his third playoff win in as many starts. Giovannoli walked the first two batters he faced, but worked his way out of the first-inning jam with a fielder's choice, a strikeout and another ground-out.


    However, Woodlawn would get one back in the second inning.


    Player/Manager Jeremy Arner worked a 6-pitch walk to start the frame and Brian Martin sacrificed him to second. A wild pitch moved Arner to third and opened the door for an easy run when Matt Marcks, nursing a pulled hamstring, grounded to short to score Arner, cutting the Reds' lead to 3-1.


    Dan Hemberger (the Fleetwings starting pitcher) had a 1-2-3 third inning and Giovannoli would face the minimum himself thanks to another college teammate of his, right-fielder J.R. Graver. Woodlawn's Scott Garger singled to center to start the inning and after a pop-up, Matt Godusky launched a screaming line-drive to right, but it was right at Graver, who took two steps in to corral it and fire off a missile of his own to first-baseman Kirk Mueller for the 9-9-3 double-play to end the inning.


    It appeared as if Hemberger would have another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, but a two-out infield error allowed Graver to reach base safely. After a walk to Mueller, John Curreri also reached base on a tough-hop error past short and into left-field, scoring Graver to make it 4-1 Coplay.


    The Fleetwings would answer that run in their half of the fourth inning.


    Big Ben Swatsky smashed a frozen rope to center for a single, stole second, and took a breather there while Dave Toth walked on five pitches. After Arner sacrificed both runners up a base, Martin lined a shot to shallow center, but Mike Bortz came in hard and fast as he made a nice diving and tumbling catch to take away a hit, but not a run, as Swatsky tagged up and scored to at least give Martin a sac fly and the Fleetwings another run to cut the Reds' lead to 4-2 after four innings.


    Giovannoli did strike out the side in order in the fifth, but things would get a bit dicey for him in the home half of the sixth.


    Swatsky singled to center again with one out. After a fly-out, Arner walked and courtesy-runner Adam Ganser ran for him. Martin then bounced a single to right, and despite another strong and accurate throw from Graver to the plate this time, it was too late to get the speedy Swatsky as he scored and Ganser took third as the score was now 4-3 Coplay. After Manager Shawn Andrews took a stroll to the mound to check on Giovannoli, the lanky right-hander then got a ground-out which took a bad hop on Rhoades at the last second, but the sure-handed second-baseman made a nice to play to stay with the high hop and throw to first in time to end the inning.


    In Game 1, the visiting Fleetwings added some insurance runs in the top half of the seventh to more or less put the game on ice. So Coplay was obviously taking notes because they came out swinging in their half of the seventh tonight to add on some crucial insurance runs.


    An infield throwing error started the inning for the Reds, which allowed Curreri to go to second base. Rhoades then squared around to bunt him to third, but when Curreri saw the third baseman charge for the bunt, he dashed for third base. Rhoades pulled back his bat and allowed Curreri to steal third, as he beat the shortstop to the bag. So now that Coplay executed a play from the Gabelsville/Boyertown playbook successfully, Rhoades could now swing and he promptly singled in Curreri to make it 5-3 Reds.


    Coplay would not be satisfied with just one insurance run.


    Bubba now squared around to sacrifice, took a pitch, and after a snap throw by the catcher got away at first base, Rhoades moved up 90 feet to second. Bubba was still bunting, and he successfully moved Rhoades to third. Leslie, who has been red-hot in the playoffs, was intentionally walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Thompson then delivered a RBI single to left to make it 6-3. Calarco followed with a RBI single of his own to left and it was 7-3. After Bortz got an infield single (on a nice diving play by Justin Godusky to keep the ball in the infield, but there was no play) to load the bases, Graver lofted a sacrifice fly to right to make it 8-3 Coplay.


    And that is the way the game would finish.


    Rhoades finished 2-for-4, Leslie was 2-for-3 with a double, Thompson was 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI and Calarco was 2-for-3 with two RBI for Coplay. Swatsky went 2-for-4 for the Fleetwings.